So Long, Gitpod

I never thought I would write this post “so soon”, because I thought I got super lucky with Gitpod that it would be my first and final start-up. You may judge me as naive for thinking like this, but I was truly into Gitpod’s mission and culture that anything outside of the bubble just didn’t make sense. 

Some of the badges I collected over the last three years

Needless to say, it’s been quite a ride these last few weeks and I learned a lot.

All or nothing

Three weeks ago, I made a difficult decision which I expressed openly on Twitter. I declined an incredible opportunity to build out community programmes for a company I’ve long loved and respected in the wider tech world.

It was great for my career, sure, but for me I felt strongly that I needed and most importantly, wanted to be part of the Gitpod team “until the end”.  Declining the offer felt hard, but I’d done this many times in the past three years as I showed loyalty to the kumquats.

🌱 This was definitely a lesson I had to learn the hard way: when it comes to career, you should take the roles that matter most to you, and not be afraid of “letting down” a group you feel loyal to.

Being let go

We had just got back from an incredible offsite in Lofer, Austria – a place which started to feel like another home – I truly felt re-energised and re-aligned with the company and team. There were conversations on upcoming projects that I personally felt would use my superpowers well and would bring Gitpod to the hands of users and customers faster.

The following events that happened was not something I could have predicted, but hey, there’s always a first for everything! 🤷

I had some minor disagreements with a team member on upcoming projects. This is completely normal as I know first-hand how everyone is passionate about their craft as well as doing what’s best for the company.

I proudly stood my ground as previously I’ve not been the type to, and continued doing my best work, planning to improve my project’s outcome. Personal growth!

I relayed the discussions on the project disagreements to others in the company, was told to wait for feedback, then a few days later found myself on the other side of an extremely difficult conversation: being let go.

These two events may not be correlated, I never got the feedback (I guess it didn’t matter) but it still stung regardless.

The actual diplomatic reason I was given was on the basis of “not having a place at Gitpod anymore”. I knew community was no longer a priority, so I spent the last six months working hard to excel as a Developer Advocate supporting prospect and customer conversations. I shipped a number of technical content and had received good feedback — nothing indicating this was performance based.

In the moment, I chose to accept it. I got tired of being a square peg in a round hole, desperately trying to make things work. 

The decision of my termination was already done anyway, and there was nothing left to discuss.

🌱 I learned another important lesson that day: business is business. It’s not personal. Companies have to make decisions like these sometimes, and that’s just how it is.

In the name of being honest

It’s no secret that I’m an emotional person. 

I used to apologize for it, but I learned that there is space for my “softness” in business. Immediately after being let go, I surprised myself because I didn’t cry as I expected. Instead, I just sat there, opened up a fresh document and brain dumped my immediate next steps.

That is until the following day I jumped on a few calls with colleagues. I learned that others had also been let go. My heart was crushed for them and all at once similar feelings I felt from last year’s layoffs hit me again.

For the last three years, I poured my full heart and soul into the company so I allowed myself to be upset, even if it was just a few hours.

Then it was back to work…!

I had stuff to do, people (my colleagues) to help and the world right beneath my feet.

Looking ahead

Once the announcement made the internal channel, my DMs flooded with messages from shocked colleagues who expressed their sadness and mutual “see you later!”s but never goodbyes. 

I am in so much shock over the news. Gitpod without Pauline…wow. It’s rare to meet people with so much passion. I know your next journey will be nothing short of exciting.”

“Thank you for everything you’ve done to make Gitpod more human, relay the energy from our async company and our product back to the real world, real people and real users by giving it a face!”

“Please know that you’ll be dearly missed here. Your presence has really enriched our workplace. But as one chapter ends, another begins, and I have no doubt that your next adventure will be nothing short of extraordinary.”

“I’m sad and confused. I always thought you’d be around for a long time. I really hope this is not goodbye.” 

Even though I was upset, as well as the other 27 emotions, I asked the questions: What did I learn? How much did I grow? Which are the good memories I want to keep?

I quickly listed:

  • Gitpod gave me a platform to grow my personal brand and make a name for myself 
  • I had full autonomy to do the role of my dreams 
  • I got to spend three years learning alongside the smartest minds and kindest humans, some I get to call my friends today
  • I had the opportunity to lead my own team and became the people manager of two of the brightest people I’ve ever worked with
  • I shipped incredible work from community building, educational videos to organizing conferences and 15+ meet-ups with 300+ participants globally from zero – all of which are still referenced as “the playbook” to me in conversations with folks
  • The work I shipped directly enabled Gitpod to secure their Series A
  • I was the MC to a conference I organized in under a month. Yeah, you read that right.
  • I re-connected with my platform engineering roots, shipped a Backstage plugin and authored a number of technical blog posts and guides that are still shared with prospects and customers today.
  • I went to four KubeCons and one Open Source Summit where I had the joy to talk to users and community about the CDE revolution in person (as well as laugh at my face on the screens showing videos I created)
  • I got to embrace asynchronous remote work, making the most of it with my digital nomad lifestyle, and traveled the world (I went to San Francisco! Yeah, the one from the movies!
  • I grew in lots of different ways from my confidence, communication, resilience to decision making. Just not in height. 
  • I can now go out into the market, take on new challenges and further my career
  • …And so much more!

Pauline, Ex-Gitpod

Three years ago, Gitpod gave me a shot

Last year, I shipped some of my best work to date.

Today, I join the group of ex-Gitpodders out there in the world bringing a piece of the Gitpod culture to our next adventures. 

My friends Laurie and Arthur jumped on a call with me shortly after the announcement, and saw me on the other side of my screen wrapped up in a blanket with comfort ice cream and cake and swollen eyes. I guarantee I looked ridiculous, but found so much comfort in my friends, both ex-Gitpodders now, who were there for me.

Speaking at the first Gitpod offsite in Portugal (2022)

Since our departure, a community group for Gitpod alumni was started and I was overwhelmed (somewhat tearful writing this) by the support ex-Gitpodders have shown for each other. 

37 47 ex-Gitpodders joined us in 48~ hours.

We’ve had those affected by earlier layoffs share their thoughts over a year later, some offering exciting roles and connections for our next steps and some literally just there to show solidarity for the situation. Kudos to George, our resident culture carrier, for getting the ball rolling with this!

📣 I’d love to introduce you to an exceptional group of ex-Gitpodders spanning customer experience/support, engineering management, technical marketing, product design, and brand design.

If you have any open roles, feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn, Twitter or send me an email.

To conclude this chapter of my career, I’d like to end with some words shared recently by an ex-Gitpodder:

What made Gitpod special wasn’t the product, or the management, or the investors. But the people.

We all gave a shit and tried our best. And we were flawed, but forgiving of each other. Having been out for ~15 months it makes me realize how special it was.

But we still own that attitude because it was us.

Thanks to Gitpod, my colleagues and the wider community for the unforgettable ride. On to the next chapter! I was born ready 😎🫡


P.S. The title of this post was inspired by Taylor Swift’s The Tortured Poet’s Department song, “So Long, London” because of course it is. 😆

6 responses to “So Long, Gitpod”

  1. All the best Pauline for your new chapter 💜

    1. Thank you for the support, Nancy 💜

  2. Being let go is never easy, and how you handle that very first time will forever sit with you. Take the feelings, use them for good. You are a very talented and passionate individual and dont let that shine dull in these harder times. Business is business it is true, but you will always take away learnings for your next step. It will always be a progression into something that is made for you to be available for. Good luck and stay strong! xx

    1. Appreciate this, thank you so much 😊

  3. I’m sorry to hear about this, but you have the right attitude about it. Good luck!

    1. Thanks for reading, Megan!

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